About a month ago, I decided that this was going to be the spring and summer where I’d turn my (erratic and unguided) energy and focus on gardening. It seemed like a good idea; I’d never attempted it myself and knew absolutely nothing about gardening other than it requires you to get dirty (we’re talkin’ covered in red Virginia mud dirty).
I started this new venture with the same unabashed intense energy and enthusiasm that I begin all things. I researched. I looked up veggies and herbs that grow well in my part of Virginia. I looked into companion planting and heirloom vegetables. I decided what herbs I wanted to grow and I planted seeds in biodegradable homemade newspaper planters. Two weeks later, I had become a proud herb mama; I had tiny little green sprigs of basil and oregano. I don’t know that I’ve felt that much excitement at something I’d “created” since I played music every day as a teenager.
(These are my plant babies)
And surprisingly enough, after two weeks I was still interested in this hobby. You see, I have a tendency to throw myself into new ventures and interests with reckless abandon and within a very (very, very) short period of time, my attentions have shifted and I’m onto the next thing. I think that the only event that has kept me from turning to some other new-fangled idea (that popped into my head whilst trying to avoid dealing with issues that I’ve been repressing, because, let’s face it, that just how I operate) was seeing the physical progress of my new hobby in a short period of time. God bless the short maturation period of basil.
Anyway…back to the story. I decided it was time for more. I wanted to attempt to grow some things in my dad’s garden (which I’d threatened to completely take over in the Eager Puppy planning stage of this new idea). I went to Lowe’s and bought a ton of seeds: broccoli, peas, beans, lettuce, carrots. I was excited.
Last weekend involved a first for me. I “suited up”, laced up my boots and trekked out to the garden, seed packets in hand, trailing after my father. My dad has gardened for years but the extent of my gardening experience is snapping ripe tomatoes off the vine (so I could enjoy a “mater sammich”) or being forced to (begrudgingly) pick beans and peas.
I headed down to the side yard with growing trepidation as I reached the garden square: I had no idea what to do. How exactly does one garden? If I plan a seed for a pea, if I cover it too much, will it grow? It is alright to plant broccoli next to peas? Does it matter that we have somewhat rocky soil and will that choke out our plants? Do I own a nail brush to get the red clay out from under my fingernails? I put all of my concerns aside and decided that’s what my dad is there for. So I began spitting questions left and right. I looked up from the dirt and asked, “How do I cover up the peas after I’ve sprinkled them?” My Dad burst into laughter. He then said something along the lines of, “As many years as I’ve been doing this and you don’t know how to cover up the seeds? A southern girl like you ought to know how to do this.” Then, he showed me how to cover the peas up after I’d sprinkled them. If any of you are wondering: use a rake. Once I put down peas, I planted broccoli seeds. Then lettuce. And then, Dad taught me the art of planting onions. Then, I planted seeds for kaleidoscope carrots; I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited about a vegetable. Purple and white and red, oh my!
All of this was serious physical work. I guess I never realized the work that is involved in the actual planting. I squatted. I crouched. I bent over and stood up repeatedly. After about two hours of this, my white dog (who, against all protest, decided that he’d aid me in this venture) was covered in red mud and my hands had never been dirtier.
I felt great. I felt physically exhausted. I can only imagine the work that will be involved in keeping weeds at bay in my veggies’ home. I felt like I’d accomplished something. I got to thinking about the days when people’s gardens were the way they fed themselves. Would I have survived that kind of life? No wonder the pictures of the farmers of old echo wiry looking people: they were continuously physically taxed.
I really do hope that my interest in this will continue to grow. I’m kind of roped into it for the long-haul (or for as long as the produce lives) of spring and summer. I don’t look forward to the time that I know I’ll have to invest squatting over plants to rip weeds from the earth; however, maybe I’m looking at this all wrong? Perhaps I should look at the impending upkeep as my new gym routine: step, squat, pull, stand, repeat. Who knows, maybe this venture will force me to eat healthier and develop “buns of steel”. Wherever this hobby leads me, I’m glad that I’m doing it: I’m learning something new and I’m spending more time with my dad. Those are two things that are worth the work.